Can furloughed federal workers in Hawaii apply for unemployment? Yes, but ...

Can furloughed federal workers in Hawaii apply for unemployment? Yes, but ...
A silent march was held to support federal employees at Honolulu's airport on Thursday. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the federal shutdown continues with no end in sight, furloughed employees are turning to everything from their personal banks to food banks for help.

They’re also filing for unemployment in the hundreds.

Furloughed federal workers who are non-essential — or not required to work during the shutdown — can file for unemployment in Hawaii while the work stoppage is ongoing.

But there’s a big catch: They’ll have to pay all the unemployment benefits they get back once the shutdown ends.

State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations spokesman Bill Kuntsman said that as of Tuesday, 208 federal furloughed employees in Hawaii have filed for unemployment benefits.

The maximum benefit most eligible federal workers would qualify for is $619 a week.

He added that once the shutdown ends, the state will calculate how much furloughed employees will have to pay back. Re-payment plans are available.

He also stressed that federal employees who are essential ― and working during the federal shutdown ― are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Essential federal workers who aren’t getting paid during the shutdown include TSA workers, air traffic controllers, and law enforcement agents.

In fact, of the roughly 800,000 employees affected by the government shutdown, about half are “essential.”

Once federal workers apply for unemployment benefits, there’s a mandatory one week waiting period. Benefits can take up to an additional 30 days to process.

For more information or to apply online, click here.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.